The Post's Credibility Springs a Leak

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Post's Credibility Springs a Leak

Daily Kos reported yesterday:
Media Matters is taking on Fred Hiatt's editorial inanity directly at the source. They're running an ad on WaPo's online editoral page critical of the paper's "A Good Leak." .... Remember that one? The one that was directly contradicted by a news article appearing the same day on the front page of the paper? The Media Matters ad asks what we've all been asking: "Do Washington Post editorial writers read their own newspaper?"
But I felt the New York Times provided the best rejoinder to the Post editorial. The Times' headlined its editorial "A Bad Leak":

... the version of the facts that Mr. Libby was authorized to divulge was so distorted that it seems more like disinformation than any sincere attempt to inform the public.

This fits the pattern of Mr. Bush's original sales pitch on the Iraq war — hyping the intelligence that bolstered his case and suppressing the intelligence that undercut it. In this case, Mr. Libby was authorized to talk about claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium for nuclear weapons in Africa and not more reliable evidence to the contrary.

... Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.

To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it.

To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed. Had Mr. Bush done that, he should have seen that the most credible information made it clear that the Niger story was wrong.

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